I doubt seriously  the Dutch social scientists would be lying. The old "official figure" for Dutch national marijuana usage was based entirely on statistics gathered within the city of Amsterdam only. Once the marijuana users in "non-Amsterdam" Holland are tallied, the figures come out much lower.

Elsewhere on these pages, articles have stated the figure as being about 1,000,000 persons using pot in the Netherlands.  This was a "wild guess" by the web maintainer based upon the previous "official" figure of about 675,000 from the 1980's (all based upon "Amsterdam only" data). I fudged that estimate upward since I thought the controversy in Holland would stimulate more people to try marijuana.  The opposite seems to have happened lately in Holland. There are fewer cannabis coffeeshops there now than 3 years ago, due to pressure from Dutch conservatives, the U. S. and France.

Dutch have fewer drug users than thought -study

(NORML Canada : Should we now call "harm reduction" style policies,
based upon the actual measurable results in society ?

AMSTERDAM, Jan 6 (Reuters) - The Netherlands has significantly fewer cannabis users than its reputation as a soft drugs haven might suggest, according to a study released on Wednesday.

The study, financed by the health ministry and conducted by Amsterdam University and the Central Bureau of Statistics, is the first to document national drugs use.

It found 15.6 percent of Dutch people aged 12 and over had used or tried cannabis, versus a U.S. figure of 32.9 percent.

The Dutch study, published on Tuesday and which spanned 1997 and early 1998, determined 2.5 percent of those aged 12 and over had used cannabis within the last month.

``(This) amounts to some 323,000 people, and is thus significantly lower than the estimate of 675,000 used by the (Dutch) government,'' the study said.

In contrast, U.S. National Household Survey data for 1997 compiled by the Washington-based Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) determined 5.1 percent of Americans were recent cannabis users.

``The figures show that a repressive drugs policy, as implemented in the U.S., does not necessarily reduce drugs use,'' the Dutch study said. ``(Ease of) availibility is not a determining factor for the use of drugs in a country.''

The findings run counter to remarks made by U.S. drugs policy adviser General Barry McCaffrey, who last summer sparked a diplomatic spat when he said Dutch leniency on soft drugs use had led to an explosion in the jail population and a sharp rise in the number of users.

By contrast the United States' hard line on drugs had cut abuse rates in America by 50 percent, McCaffrey said.

11:20 01-06-99

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